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Torness Nuclear Power Station
Torness, near Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland, UK
associated engineer
Not known
date  August 1980 - 25th March 1988
era  Modern  |  category  Power Generation  |  reference  NT744751
Torness is an Advanced Gas-Cooled reactor power station. They are unique to Britain, and Torness is part of the third phase of construction of nuclear stations containing these reactors.
There are two reactors at Torness, each providing 625MW of electricity. The net capacity of 1,250MW supplies more than 1.5 million homes. Total output for the year ended 31st March 2007 was 7.6 million MW-hours.
Reactor 1 achieved criticality on 25th March 1988 and began supplying the National Grid commercially on 25th May 1988. Reactor 2 went critical on 23rd December 1988 and started supplying electricity on 3rd February 1989.
The design of the reactor containment vessel was developed from the first such concrete vessel, used at Oldbury, and the later Hinkley Point B vessel. Its general design is similar to that used at Heysham 2.
The concrete pressure vessel, which contains the core and the boiler, is cast around a gas tight 13mm thick carbon steel liner. The prestressed concrete is 5.5m thick and acts as a biological shield. It has an external cooling water system and internal insulation to stop the concrete overheating. Cooling water is abstracted from the North Sea.
The reactor core is constructed from interlocking graphite bricks, with 332 fuel channels and 89 control rod channels built in.
The fuel channels contain a row of ‘fuel stringers’ — vertical stacks of eight fuel elements. A fuel element is a group of 36 fuel pins — each consisting of hollow uranium dioxide pellets stacked inside stainless steel tubes — inside a cylinder of graphite.
If the reactor needs to be shut down, rods of boronated steel enter the control channels. Nitrogen is injected into the core and, if required, boron beads are added to the core.
A large domed cylinder of carbon manganese steel — the gas baffle — encloses the core and separates the gas coolant (pressurised carbon dioxide) from the hot gas from the fuel channels. This hot exhaust gas passes through the boiler, and drives a turbine generator unit. Each generating set has four exhausts.
During commissioning, the fuel-handling facilities were found deficient and the power station was restricted to refuelling operations only. The reactors remained shut down until 1996. There were unplanned reactor shut downs in May and August 2002, and August 2006.
Torness was built on an 81 hectare greenfield site, by the South of Scotland Electricity Board. Its management passed to Scottish Nuclear Ltd, then to the present operator British Energy plc. Its likely decommissioning date is 2023.
Main contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine
Reactors: National Nuclear Corporation
Turbine and generator supply: General Electric (UK)
Research: ECPK
"Going Critical — An Unofficial History of British Nuclear Power"
by Walter C. Patterson, Paladin Books, 1985
"Heysham 2 and Torness Nuclear Power Stations – the findings of NII’s assessment of British Energy’s periodic safety review", Health and Safety Executive, February 2001
document in PDF available at www.hse.gov.uk

Torness Nuclear Power Station